Watch your back around those with Seasonal Affective Disorder

January 31, 2012

The other day, I heard an old traditional cowboy song on the radio, “Home on the Range.” For those of you who don’t know the lyrics, the song extols the virtues of living on the range, a place where the buffalo roam and the antelope play, and no one has a discouraging word, and if that’s not enough, the skies are not cloudy all day.

Whenever I take a long trip, I like to put the classic country Western station on; it kind of takes your mind off your problems. You get so busy blubbering over the heartbreak and loneliness of the lyrics, and it’s always someone walking out and ripping your heart out, that before you know it, you’ve arrived at your destination. Of course, it will take you a day to pull yourself together, but the puffiness around your eyes usually goes down in a week. Still, it’s well worth it.

Well, I don’t know what planet that song is from, but I haven’t seen a buffalo or antelope in oh, say, well, actually never. And as far as a discouraging word, there had to be zero politics when this was written. And I’m certain those cloudy skies out your window for the last three months aren’t from cataracts.

Anyway, my point being, this time of year can be very dangerous and almost depressing, especially for those with SAD, or what’s known as seasonal affective disorder.  Back in the day of the cowboys, it was simply called RFYL, or run for your lives, particularly when a herd of those buffalo were set loose.

Now, many things can set this condition into full-blown hysteria. Scientists believe that at this time of the year, boredom is the main culprit. Some people equate it with cabin fever, but I’ve never understood what that means, since you don’t want to leave your cabin if you have a fever anyway, and who the heck has a cabin to begin with?

But I understand the kind of boredom that happens with gray skies and lack of sunshine may be severe, so severe that a person will say or do something completely inappropriate.

For instance, just saying hello and greeting a person, asking how he is doing, can be very harmful this time of year. You will have to be on your guard.

Just this one interaction is enough to set someone off in response whereby this complete stranger tells you this long, intricate story about how he had this growth on his neck, which he thought was a cyst, but it kept growing, and at some point it looked like an extra head protruding from his neck, until one day while he was eating at this restaurant, a waitress brushed up against it, then it burst wide open, and it sprayed the walls with this hard stuff much like the material under your toenails ... Well, you can see the only way to respond to something like this is to keep walking and buy a one-way ticket to Morocco.

Of course, there are even more extreme cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Some people will seek medical help. I know a lot of women turn to plastic surgery. You know the kind where the surgeon pulls the skin on either side of your face up high, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, and screws it to the top of your head. The screw is tightened, much like the cap on your gas tank, where you click it until you cannot move it further.

Nothing wrong with this; you can feel refreshed and rejuvenated. But no matter what path you follow to get through the winter blahs, whether it’s a fantasy or momentary glitch, just remember, the toast always falls jelly side down, at least until the spring.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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